Spaceship Earth

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Spaceship Earth
Spaceshipearth.jpg
Spaceship Earth is considered to be the icon of Epcot.
Land Future World
Attraction type Dark Ride
Theme Communication
Opening date October 1, 1982
Hosted by Vic Perrin or Larry Dobkins (1982-1986)
Walter Cronkite (1986-1994)
Jeremy Irons (1994-2007)
Judi Dench (2007–present)
Ride duration 13:26 minutes
Audio-Animatronics 57
FastPass + Yes (Group B)
Sponsored by Bell System (1982-1984)
AT&T (1984-2004)
Siemens (2005-2017)

Spaceship Earth is a pavilion and an attraction located in Epcot.

Conception and Pavilion History

Spaceship Earth was a part of Disney’s plans for EPCOT Center since the theme park's inception. Unlike other pavilions which went through a series of redesigns and changes, Spaceship Earth remained essentially the same throughout its development. One of the few changes that did occur between the time that the pavilion was conceived and constructed involved the shape that Spaceship Earth would take. As seen in the 1978 EPCOT Center model, originally, Imagineers had planned on Spaceship Earth being a dome, with the attraction's show building located south of the pavilion. [1].

Due to the fact that plans for the Spaceship Earth attraction called for a finale that simulated a trip through space, Disney Imagineers felt that they would need to move guests "up" in the pavilion. Furthermore, Disney decided that simply entering the domed pavilion and boarding the ride was not dramatic enough [2]. In order to solve these issues, Imagineers eventually decided that instead of taking the shape of a geodesic dome, Spaceship Earth would be constructed as a geodesic sphere, something never done before [2].

Although the pavilion was designed to look like a seamless sphere, Spaceship Earth was actually constructed in two parts[2]. The top half of the dome sits on a steel square ring, which itself is set atop the pavilion's "legs". The bottom half of the dome was then attached to the bottom of the ring, giving the illusion that Spaceship earth is a monolithic structure[2].

Early Spaceship Earth concept art

Besides being constructed out of two separate halves, Spaceship Earth was also made of two separate spherical layers. The inside sphere of the pavilion was made of steel pyramid-shaped pipes[2]. This sphere was then covered by an outside sphere that was made of Alucobond pyramids (a polyester plastic) which was then covered in two sheets of aluminum[2]. This design was chosen so that the inner sphere (which houses the attraction) would be protected from the elements[2]. Furthermore, this design solved the issue of runoff water. As Disney did not want water pouring off the sides of the 18 story pavilion, gaps were left in-between the Alucobond pyramids, so that the water could run through them and into a gutter system (which would eventually deposit the water into the World Showcase Lagoon) [2].

It took construction workers 26 months and almost 40,800 labor hours to build Spaceship Earth [2]. When it was completed, in Spaceship Earth Disney not only an icon for EPCOT Center, but also the world’s first geodesic dome. Both the pavilion and the attraction housed within, were ready for EPCOT Center's opening day- October 1, 1982 [3].

The structure of the pavilion itself remained unchanged until 1999, when a large Mickey hand holding a wand was added to the top of Spaceship Earth [4]. The wand was dedicated "2000" in celebration of the new millennium, before the dedication was changed to "Epcot" in 2001 [4]. The Mickey hand and wand remained atop Spaceship Earth until it was removed in 2007, just in time for Epcot's 25th anniversary[4].

Attraction History

Spaceship Earth’s storyline and original script were written by author Ray Bradbury [5], who came up with an elaborate version of “Man and his Spaceship Earth” (as the attraction was then called) in 1977 [6] [7]. Other consultants and advisers included academics from: the Los Angeles' Huntington Library, University of Southern California, University of Chicago, and the Smithsonian Institute [8] also contributed to the creation of Spaceship Earth.

Much like the pavilion, the storyline for the Spaceship Earth attraction remained fairly consistent throughout its development. In the 1980 booklet titled Walt Disney World EPCOT Center, Spaceship Earth is described:

"Spaceship Earth," planned for presentation by AT&T, will be Future World's introductory theme show. Here guests will board "time machine" vehicles and journey into the past to trace the evolution of human communication.

Visitors will travel into dimensional scenes depicting milestones in communication, "brought to life" through the Audio-Animatronics process and Disney special effects. [9]

The above description correlates very closely to the attraction that would eventually open to guests. In fact, the 1982 book also titled Walt Disney World EPCOT Center describes basically the same attraction, albeit now inside the geodesic sphere:

The architecturally unique Spaceship Earth globe forms a breathtaking entrance to Epcot Center. Entering Future World, visitors pass directly beneath this glistening geosphere which reaches a height surpassing that of the Walt Disney World Contemporary Resort Hotel. Within this theme structure, a swirling time journey retraces the increasingly important role of communications in mankind's survival[9].


One change that did occur to the storyline of Spaceship Earth, involved the attraction's finale. The original plans for the finale called for guests to visit a moon base, where they would visit a futuristic space station under construction [10]. Although unconfirmed, it has been speculated that issues with the forced perspective caused the planned finale to be scrapped. Despite the fact that the scene was never installed, lunar rock cutouts created for the scene were left behind [11].

The mural at the entrance to Spaceship Earth depicts the evolution of communication. Photo by Sam Howitz

Throughout its history, Spaceship Earth has always featured a dark ride attraction that takes guests through the history of communication. The pavilion was first refurbished in 1986, with subsequent refurbishments taking place in 1994 and 2007. Following each refurbishment, the attraction has been given a new script, a new narrator, and a new finale.

When Spaceship Earth opened in 1982 it was sponsored by Bell Systems. By 1984 however, the company was broken up and AT&T (Bell's parent company) assumed sponsorship of the pavilion. AT&T continued to sponsor the pavilion until 2004, when the company decided not to renew their contract. Subsequently, in 2005, Siemens assumed sponsorship of the pavilion. The company's sponsorship of the attraction ended in October of 2017 [12].

Listed below is a more detailed description of the differences between the four versions of Spaceship Earth.

Original Incarnation: Vic Perrin or Larry Dobkins (1982-1986)

  • NOTE: In 2008 Imagineer Mary Sklar disagreed with the long held notion that Vic Perrin was the narrator of the 1982 version of Spaceship Earth. Marty instead claimed that Larry Dobkins was the narrator. With no official credit given, it is currently impossible to know for sure who narrated the attraction.

The queue for the original Spaceship Earth attraction began with guests entering the pavilion, and walking up a short ramp. On the walls around them, two large posters showed Spaceship Earth at night and read "Ride the Time Machine from the Dawn of Civilization to the Beginning of Our Tomorrow. SPACESHIP EARTH." Nearby, a large mural showed astronauts working on a satellite, with Earth in the background. The mural was framed with small pictures depicting cavemen, Romans, Egyptians, the printing press, and finally modern humans. After passing through the queue, guests would board small blue ride vehicles, beginning the attraction itself.

After guests boarded, the vehicles guests entered a dark tunnel and began to ascend. Here, all guests could see was a purple cloud with stars all around it. A flash of lightning would periodically strike from the cloud, and the narrator would begin:

Where have we come from, where are we going? In the dust from which we were formed, answers recorded on the walls of time. So let us journey into that past, to seek those walls, to know ourselves and to probe the destiny of our Spaceship Earth.

When the vehicles reached the top of the tunnel, guests could see images of cavemen fighting Woolly Mammoths. The narrator informed guests that they were entering the ancient caves, where humans first interacted. A scene showing an ancient medicine man talking to other cavemen could be seen here, with cave paintings showing the first humans “writing” their thoughts down. The narrator then acknowledged the Woolly Mammoth scene, informing guests that humans used communication in order to survive. The narration in this scene stated:

The Egyptian pharaoh dictating his decree
Where are we now? It is the waiting dawn, where vast things stir and breathe. And with our first words and first steps, we draw together to conquer the mammoth beast. It is the dawn of a new beginning, the dawn of recorded time

On cave walls we inscribe our greatest triumphs, a growing record of our deeds, to share with others so they too may greet tomorrow’s sun.

As the ride vehicles moved forward, guests could see an Egyptian making papyrus (sometime between 1567 - 1085 B.C.). Across the way, an elaborate Egyptian building could be seen, with Hieroglyphs decorating the archways. Further down the way, a Pharaoh was shown dictating to a scribe. His wife sat next to him, as servants fanned the royal couple. The narrator then spoke, saying:

Ages pass and more walls rise in the valley of the Nile. Man-made walls of hieroglyphics. Then with new symbols, we unlock our thoughts from chiseled walls and send them forth on papyrus scrolls

At this point, the scene shifted to a seaport in the ninth century B.C.. Here, two Phoenician sailors could be seen trading goods and information from their two connected boats. On the right, guests could see the ocean with stars shining on the horizon. The narrator told guests:

On fine Phoenician ships, we take our scrolls to sea. Real scrolls simplified by an alphabet, eagerly shared at distant ports of call.

The ride vehicles then moved forward in time, to Greece in 428 B.C.. Here, a scene depicting a Greek theater could be seen, with two men acting out Oedipus Rex. The narrator then spoke once again:

Deep in the shadows of Mount Olympus, our alphabet takes route ... flowering with new expression. Hail the proud Greeks: Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides. The theater is born.

As guests continued their journey through time, they came upon a Roman solider riding in a chariot. He was exchanging information with another man (who was wearing a toga). In the background, a painted wall depicted Rome, as another chariot passed by. The narrator then said:

North, South, East, and West, all roads lead from Rome, a mighty network reaching across the land, welding far-flung garrisons into a growing empire.
Michelangelo painting the roof of the Sistine Chapel

As the ride vehicles carried on, guests could see ruins of a smoldering building. The narrator informed guests that the excess of Rome had led to its destruction. A scene showing the Islamic wise men sitting in a circle discussing books was then shown. To their left, was a library with unfilled shelves, inside of which two men could be seen reading. Here the narrator informed guests:

Glorious Rome, until consumed by the flames of excess. Imperial Rome, lost in the ashes of darkness.

Far from the dying embers, Islamic wise men preserve ancient wisdom and weave a rich network of new knowledge linking east and west.

Continuing forward into the Dark Ages, on guest's right, an astronomer could be seen standing on a balcony, investigating the stars. Further down the path, two Benedictine Monks were shown copying text by hand, with the monk on the right having fallen asleep on the job. The narrator once again spoke, saying:

In Western abbeys, Monks toil endlessly transcribing ancient wisdom into hand-penned books of revelation.

At last! A new dawn emerges. The dawn of the Renaissance. And a wondrous machine performs as a thousand scribes. Now for all: the printed word.

As guests entered the Renaissance scene, Johann Gutenberg and his associate could be seen working on the printing press. Guests then moved forward to Italy in the 16th century. To the right, a man was shown reading a book to two others, while just beyond them, two musicians played music in front of a small Italian town. On guest's left various artists were work. One was mixing paint, one painting fruit, and one sculpting. Further ahead on the left, guests could see Michelangelo lying on scaffolding, painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. A conveyance system brought buckets of paint up to the artist as he painted. The narration for the Renaissance continued:

Our books fuel the fires of the Renaissance. It is a time to discover anew the worlds of poetry and philosophy, science and music. As our minds soar, our hands find new expression in the flourishing world of art. Behold, the majesty of the Sistine ceiling.

Following the Renaissance, guests moved forward in time to the 18th and 19th century. The narrator spoke of this transition saying:

The Renaissance: a beacon through the mists of time, guiding us to a new era. A time of invention and exploding communication.

The first thing that guests would see in the modern era was the steam powered printing press, which was invented by William Bullock in 1863. While a man inspected the newspaper that came out of the press, further on, a young newsboy stood on a street corner selling a stack of New York Daily newspapers. As the vehicles continued on, guests could see a man dictating a telegram to another man who sent it out, while a train passed by on a railroad. On their left, guests could then see telephone wires stretching all across the scene, and various phone conversations could be heard.

Spaceship Earth's telegraph scene. Photo by Elizabeth

Moving forward, guests passed by a woman sitting in a cinema ticket booth. Three screens on her left showed old black and white movies. The first screen showed a movie about a runaway trolley, the second showed two people dancing, and the final screen showed the Disney film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Across the way, guests could see a scene depicting the WDP (Walt Disney Productions) radio station, where a man and a woman could be found acting out a radio show inside of a sound booth. Outside the booth, an engineer monitored the sound level. To the right of the scene, a radio tower was shown, with waves emanating from it.

As time progressed, the vehicles passed a scene depicting a mother, father and daughter watching TV in their living room. Four other televisions hung on the wall behind the family, which would change channels, showing various television shows. Shows that could be seen here included:

  • Ozzie and Harriet
  • 1964 NFL Colts vs. Browns Championship Game
  • Ed Sullivan with the Harlem Globetrotters
  • Walter Cronkite
  • Walt Disney introducing an episode of The Wonderful World of Color.

Following the television scene, the narrator once again spoke.

"With each day come more paths, more ideas, more dreams, and we build new machines: computer machines that think, that store, sift, sort, and count, and help us chart our course through an age of boundless information."

Guests then could see The Network Operations Center, where network lines and satellites were monitored. The center housed a map of Florida, The United States, and even a view of the entire globe (from the North Pole). A man sat in front of these maps watching them, while a woman was seated to his right. The narration in this scene noted:

With these machines comes a wondrous new network of communications, a vibrant maze of billions of electronic pathways stretching to the very edge of space.
The Network Operations Center found in Spaceship Earth from 1982-1994

The ride vehicles then entered a tunnel, which featured high speed lights flying by. Here the narrator said:

Verged on the threshold of infinity, we see our world as it truly is: small, silent, fragile, alive, a drifting island in the midnight sky. It is our spaceship, our Spaceship Earth.

This narration marked the point where guests were at the top of the sphere. Now in outer space, guests could see Earth in the distance, surrounded by stars. Also at the top of the sphere was a large space station and two satellites. From the space station, a young woman was controlling mechanical arm to assist the astronauts in repairing the larger of the two satellites. Passing by this scene, guests would then enter the space station's hangar (going beneath the girl in the window who would wave) and begin their descent.

As the ride vehicles began to descend, guests could see more clouds of dust (similar to the one at the beginning of the attraction) on their right. Further down, guests saw various scenes on connected monitors. Scenes shown on the monitors included:

  • Children from around the world holding hands.
  • A human using a telescope.
  • DNA chains

All of the monitors were connected by fiber optic strands, showing how everything was connected now through communication. Guests could also hear people around the world, talking to each other and exchanging information. Lastly, before unloading, guests would see a series of dots which resembled circuits, and hear one final narration:

Now our Future World draws near, and we face the challenge of tomorrow. We must return and take command of our Spaceship Earth. To become captains of our own destiny. To reach out and fulfill our dreams.

Our journey has been long. From primal caves we have ventured forth traveling the endless corridors of time seeking answers to our tomorrow. With growing knowledge and growing communication, we have changed our lives, changed our worlds.

From the reaches of space to the depths of the sea, we have spun a vast electronic network linking ourselves as fellow passengers together, on Spaceship Earth.

Today our search for understanding is unbounded by space and time. Vast stores of information, knowledge from everywhere, standing ready at our beck and call to reach us in an instant. With our great network, we harness our knowledge, give it shape and form to serve us, to help create and communicate a better awareness of ourselves, and our world.

Ours is the age of knowledge, the age of choice and opportunity. Tomorrow’s world approaches, so let us listen and learn, let us explore and question and understand, let us go forth and discover the wisdom to guide great Spaceship Earth through the uncharted seas of the future. Let us dare to fulfill our destiny.

Second Incarnation: Walter Cronkite (1986-1994)

Changes [13]

In order to expand the appeal of Spaceship Earth, the attraction was closed from May 25 to May 29, 1986 and a new narration was installed. The new script was written by Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald and narrated by Walter Cronkite, giving the attraction a warmer tone. Other changes to the attraction in 1986 included:

  • During guest's initial ascent, the smoke effect was removed. It was replaced with a new star-field effect.
  • The Hebrew people's contributions to communication were now recognized.
  • Two new scenes were added to the attraction in between the family living room scene and the Network Operations Center scene.
    • The first of these depicted the creation of the PC, with a young man sitting at his desk. The Audio Animatronic used in this scene was actually moved from the printing press scene.
    • Also added was The “paperless office" scene which featured an Audio Animatronic woman that was previously found in the Network Operations Center scene.
  • The attraction's finale was changed so that instead of showing projections of new technology, images were instead introduced to the more provocative "Tomorrow's Child". These projections visualized the idea that the children of today would be the leaders of tomorrow. The new finale gave the attraction a more climatic ending and also conveyed the message of hope for the future.
    • In this scene, the attraction's new theme song "Tomorrow's Child" was added. The song was written by Ron Ovadia and Peter Stougaard, and performed by Sally Stevens during the decent ramp.
  • In the decent ramp, new star effects were also added to give the scene more depth.

Narration

Click play below to hear Walter Cronkite's narration!

Scene Narration
Loading Room "AT&T welcomes you to Spaceship Earth and invites you to explore the story of communications. And now your host, Walter Cronkite."
Ascension Tunnel "For eons our planet has drifted as a spaceship through the universe. And for a brief moment, we have been its passengers. Yet in that time we've made tremendous progress in our ability to record and share knowledge. So, lets journey back 40,000 years to the dawn of recorded history. We'll trace the path of communications from its earliest beginnings to the promise of the future."
Woolly Mammoth and Cave Men "We have reached the dawn of recorded time, an age when mammoth creatures roam the land. But with spoken language, the ancient hunters learn to work together and meet the challenges of this hostile world."
Medicine Man in Cave "In primal tribes, the skills of survival are passed on to new generations through the art of storytelling. Not trusting this knowledge to memory alone, our ancestors create a lasting reminder with cave paintings."
Egypt "Ages later, stories and knowledge are transcribed in complex pictures and symbols. Hieroglyphics mark the rise of written language and soon with papyrus scrolls, the written word begins to travel out across the land."
Phoenician Ship "The value of writing for accurate record keeping appeals to Phoenician merchants. They create an alphabet, simple enough for any to learn and share this new tool at ports along the Mediterranean."
Greek Theater "In classic Greece, the alphabet grows and flowers with new expression and a new stage of storytelling emerges. A stage on which we examine our world and ourselves. The theater is born."
Rome "The Romans build a mighty system of roads, a long distance network to carry laws and tidings over a far-reaching empire."
Rome Burning "Glorious Rome falls victim to the flames of excess. Ages of knowledge are lost or forgotten in the ashes."
Islamic and Jewish Scholars "But all is not lost, for Islamic and Jewish scholars continue to preserve ancient wisdom in noble libraries. In their travels, they record knowledge, and share their findings with cultures East and West."
Benedictine Monks "In western abbeys, monks toil endlessly transcribing ancient writings into hand penned books of revelation."
Renaissance "The dawn of the Renaissance brings a wondrous new machine, the printing press. Now books and authors flourish as never before."
Sistine Chapel "The Renaissance, a time of renewed interest in the worlds of poetry and music, science, philosophy, and art. Behold, the majesty of the Sistine ceiling."
19th Century "On this wave of inspiration, we sail into a bold, new era. An age of astounding inventions and ever increasing progress in communications."
20th Century "With electronic communications, we can send messages instantly over long distances. Signals and voices criss-cross the nation. Radio and movies inform and entertain millions. Then television brings the world into our homes, profoundly changing our perceptions of life itself."
Modern Times "Today, we're merging the technologies of communications and computers to store, process and share information. And we're creating a vast electronic network stretching from our homes to the reaches of space."
Top of the Sphere "We have entered a wondrous new age, the age of information. A time of new promise and new hope for ourselves and Spaceship Earth."
Final Descent "In the information age, our knowledge and tools of communication will continue to grow and improve. We'll discover new ways to share our ideas and dreams, to create a better world for today, tomorrow and tomorrow's child."
Final Descent "Yes, tomorrow's child. Embodying our hopes and dreams for the future, a future made possible by the information age. The technologies of this new era will extend our reach, expand the capabilities of the human mind and help us shape a better tomorrow.
Conclusion Ours is a time of unprecedented choice and opportunity, so let us explore and question and understand. Let us learn from our past and meet the challenges of the future, let us go forth and fulfill our destiny on Spaceship Earth.
Unloading Area (Female announcer) "The people of AT&T thank you for traveling through Spaceship Earth and look forward to serving you in the Information Age. For a look at today's Information Age technologies, we invite you to visit FutureCom in CommuniCore West. When the doors of your vehicle open, please gather your personal belongings, and step out onto the moving platform up ahead. The platform and your vehicle are traveling at equal speed.

Third Incarnation: Jeremy Irons (1994-2007)

Changes [13] [14]

In 1994, following AT&T decision to renew their sponsorship, Spaceship Earth was once again closed for refurbishment. At this time, a new narration was installed in the attraction. Imagineer Larry Gertz wrote the attraction's new script and Jeremy Irons replaced Walter Cronkite as Spaceship Earth's narrator. Other changes to the attraction at this time included:

  • The Audio Animatronics within the attraction were updated, making the figures much more fluid.
  • The whole ride was given a musical score based on Bach's Sinfonia No. 2 in C Minor
  • The paperboy was given a deeper voice.
The video phone scene in the 1994 version of Spaceship Earth
  • The Network Operations Center scene was removed.
  • The personal computer and paperless office scenes were removed.
    • The scenes were replaced with a "global communications" scene. Here, an American named Jason and a Japanese girl named Kaiko communicated over videophone (the videophone translated their native languages).
  • New laser effects were added to the ascent tunnel.
  • In the outer space scene, the space station was painted black (in order to hide it) and the woman looking out of the station was removed.
  • The two astronauts were removed from the space scene and relocated to Space Mountain.
  • The outer space scene received a new Earth projection.
  • Where the space station scene had once been, new floating screens showed guests news reports from all over the world.
  • Following the news, guests passed by a family playing a high-tech simulator game.
  • New laser effects that covered and followed the ride vehicles were added.
  • A new virtual classroom scene was added. The scene showed students and a teacher working with other classrooms from around the world.
  • The Tomorrow's Child screens were removed and replaced with a new star field effect.
  • A series of scenes which showcased the videophone were added.
    • In the first scene a mother sang a lullaby to her daughter.
    • In the second, a family was able to "attend" their daughter's graduation even though they could not physically be there.
    • A third scene showed a family contacting a doctor using the videophone.
    • Finally, a scientist in a cave was able to show his new discovery to a colleague in a futuristic city, which then beamed the information to another city.
  • Guests then passed the futuristic city itself, which sat on the edge of an ocean and glowed with LED lights. As they passed, an information grid beamed out of the city, creating a vortex that followed guests down the decent ramp. The vortex then changed its shape when it passed a model of Spaceship Earth.

Narration

Click play below to hear Jeremy Irons' narration!

Scene Narration
Loading Room "AT&T welcomes you aboard Spaceship Earth. Journey with us now, to the dawn of recorded time as we explore the amazing story of human communication."
Ascension Tunnel "Like a grand and miraculous spaceship, our planet has sailed through the universe of time. And for a brief moment, we have been among its many passengers. From the very beginning, we have always sought to reach out to one another. To bridge the gaps between us. To communicate."
Woolly Mammoth and Cave Men "Across a lonely, hostile planet, our early ancestors spread out in search of food and shelter."
Medicine Man in Cave "With the development of language came a vital key to our survival. For the first time, we could share and learn from one another. We bonded together in small tribes and prospered. No longer isolated, no longer alone"
Egypt "Ages later, the Egyptians invented the first written communication. A complex language of hieroglyphic pictures and symbols. With the creation of papyrus scrolls, came the world's first piece of paper. Now, without ever leaving their palaces, pharaohs could deliver proclamations and decrees to subjects across the land."
Phoenician Ship "Phoenician merchants established the earliest commercial highways trading goods and information at distant ports of call. To aid in record keeping, they created the first common alphabet and shared this new tool across the Mediterranean."
Greek Theater "In ancient Greece, the spoken word was elevated to a fine art. Philosophers debated with one another in plazas and storytellers found a new forum for personal expression. The theater was born."
Rome "The mighty Roman empire bridged three continents with a vast system of roads, the fastest information highways the world had ever known. East, west, north, and south, all roads led to Rome."
Rome Burning "But these same roads were turned against Rome by invaders whose destruction left ages of knowledge and wisdom in the ashes that would become the Dark Ages."
Islamic and Jewish Scholars "But all was not lost. For far across the land, from Cairo to Cordoba, Jewish teachers and Islamic scholars continued the quest for knowledge. In libraries of wisdom they debated ideas and shared new discoveries with all who would listen."
Benedictine Monks "In western abbeys, Monks toil endlessly in lonely isolation copying ancient books of wisdom and revelations for future generations."
Renaissance "Finally, from the depths of the Dark Ages came the Age of Enlightenment, the Renaissance. And with this era, came a powerful new invention, the moveable type printing press"
Renaissance "Scientists, explorers, and scholars spread their discoveries in books and essays. Poets, musicians, and artists fueled by the passion of the age created timeless works of beauty and majesty"
19th Century "On this wave of inspiration, we sailed into a bold, new era of communication bringing an explosion of tools and technologies which would bridge people around the world as never before. And as our appetite for information and knowledge grew, the world began to shrink."
Modern Times "Today, we possess the ability to connect with one another instantly anywhere on the planet."
Modern Times "A new communications supernetwork is being built before our eyes. Spaceship Earth glows with billions of interactions carrying news and information at the very speed of light"
Top of the Sphere "But will these seemingly infinite communications become a flood of electronic babble? Or will we use this power to usher in a new age of understanding and co-operation on this, our Spaceship Earth."
Final Descent "Physical distance is no longer a barrier to communication. Today, the entire world is our next door neighbor. Our news is their news, their news ours. We share our hopes and concerns with the whole planet. We truly live in a Global Neighborhood."
Final Descent- Classroom Scene "Wondrous new tools will help us learn more about ourselves, each other, and the planet we share. Spaceship Earth will become our virtual classroom."
Final Descent- Telecommunications Dioramas "As we greet the 21st century, yet another revolution in communication is upon us. As profound as all the progress that has come before. By using our new communication tools to build better bridges between us, we will discover we all share the common bonds of hope and sorrow, dreams and joys"
Conclusion "Since the dawn of recorded time, communication has revolutionized our lives and changed our world. We now have the ability and the responsibility to build new bridges of acceptance and co-operation between us, to create a better world for ourselves and our children as we continue our amazing journey aboard Spaceship Earth"
Unloading Area (1994-1999) (Female announcer) "AT&T thanks you for traveling with us on the superhighway of communications. We are dedicated to bringing people together providing you with easy access to each other and the information you want and need anytime, anywhere. We invite you now to preview the future of communications at the AT&T Global Neighborhood. And then at Innoventions, discover how AT&T is turning tomorrow's visions into reality today. Your vehicle doors will open automatically. Please gather your belongings and watch your step on the moving platform."
Unloading Area (1999-2004) "AT&T thanks you for traveling with us on the superhighway of communications. We are dedicated to bringing people together providing you with easy access to each other and the information you want and need anytime, anywhere. We invite you now to preview the future of communications at the AT&T Global Neighborhood. And then at Innoventions, discover how AT&T is turning tomorrow's visions into reality today. Your vehicle doors will open automatically. Please gather your belongings and watch your step on the moving platform."

Current Incarnation: Judi Dench (2007-Present)

Changes [15] [16]

In 2004, AT&T chose to end its sponsorship of Spaceship Earth, leaving the pavilion sponsorless for the first time in its history [17]. Spaceship Earth was not without a sponsor long however. In 2005 Siemens announced that it would assume sponsorship of the pavilion as part of a 12 year, 100 million dollar “strategic alliance” with the Walt Disney Company [18]. In November 2005, the outside walls of the pavilion were painted light blue, and the Siemens logo was added to the pavilion [19]. Although the company planned to update the attraction, the refurbishment did not come until 2007 when Spaceship Earth closed for the most extensive renovation in the attraction's history.

When the attraction reopened it featured a new script, with Dame Judi Dench now narrating the attraction. Other changes to Spaceship Earth during the 2007 refurbishment included:

The home computer scene was added to Spaceship Earth in 2007
  • The addition of touch screens to the ride vehicles. Early in the attraction, the screens take guest's picture for later use.
  • The entire attraction was given a new score written by Bruce Broughton [19].
  • The Woolly Mammoth and cavemen scene was updated using CGI mammoths and cavemen.
  • CGI was also used in the following cave painting scene; so that the cave paintings now seem to come to life.
  • The Greek play scene was removed and replaced with a new scene which focuses on the mathematical advancements, and philosophies, of the Greek thinkers.
    • The scene now shows an elderly Greek man teaching his students about math. One of the students appears uninterested however, as he has fallen asleep.
  • In the Renaissance scene, the two musical players were removed, and the statue that the Italian is sculpting has been slightly altered.
  • In the printing press scene, the man reading the printed newspaper was changed. He now wears glasses and has sideburns. He also has a new facial structure.
  • The paperboy, who was shown selling newspapers on the street corner, is now turned away from guests.
  • The various screens in the cinema (which once showed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a runaway trolley, and two dancers) were removed.
  • The radio scene was altered, so that a single man is now shown recording by himself.
  • The scene that showed an American boy and Japanese girl communicating by video was removed.
  • A new early computer scene was added on both sides of the track.
  • Next, a new scene that focuses on the early pioneers of the home computer (such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs) was added. The scene now shows a young man with long hair and glasses working in his garage.
  • Every subsequent scene in the attraction including: the researchers in the jungle and cave, the cities by the ocean, the four dioramas, and the video screens showing children, were all removed and not replaced.
    • At this point in the attraction guests now use their touchscreens to answer preference questions. After answering the questions, guests see a cartoon that shows different depictions of the future. The image of guests' heads that was taken earlier in the attraction is superimposed on the cartoon bodies. After completing the interactive experience, the attraction reaches the unloading area and guests disembark.

Narration

Click play below to hear Judi Dench's narration!

Scene Narration
Loading Room (Where Guests Get Their Picture Taken) " This is Spaceship Earth control. On behalf of Siemens, welcome aboard. On the map in front of you, please show us where you’re from while we input your time travel coordinates. Now locate the monitor overhead to the right. Make sure your head is clearly visible and wait for the flash. Good. Sending photo to the future. All systems are go. Linking you now to your guide.
Ascension Tunnel “Like a grand and miraculous spaceship, our planet has sailed through the universe of time. And for a brief moment, we have been among its passengers. But where are we going? And what kind of future will we discover there? Surprisingly, the answers lie in our past. Since the dawn of recorded history, we’ve been inventing the future one step at a time. So let’s travel back in time together. I’ll show you how our ancestors created the world we know today. And then it will be your turn to create the world of tomorrow.”
Woolly Mammoth and Cave Men “Here in this hostile world is where our story begins. We are alone, struggling to survive, until we learn to communicate with one another. Now we can hunt as a team and survive together.”
Medicine Man in Cave “It takes fifteen thousand years to come up with the next bright idea: recording our knowledge on cave walls. There was only one small problem: when we moved, the recorded knowledge stayed behind.”
Egypt " Now let’s move ahead to ancient Egypt, because something is about to happen here that will change the future forever. This unknown Egyptian pounding reeds flat is inventing papyrus, a soft paper. Papyrus in turn creates better record keeping of plans, designs, and unfortunately taxes. But it also brings with it the dawn of great civilizations.”
Phoenician Ship "At this point, each civilization has its own form of writing which none of the others can understand. But the Phoenicians, who trade with all of them, have a solution. They create a simple, common alphabet adaptable to most languages. Remember how easy it was to learn your ABC’s? Thank the Phoenicians.
Greece “The ancient Greeks were great inventors of the future. First they established public schools, and then begin teaching an intriguing new subject called mathematics; and with math comes mechanical technology and the birth of the high tech life we enjoy today.”
Rome " With lessons learned from the Greeks, the Romans create a powerful empire. To move their armies around, they built a system of roads all over the known world. Rome built the first World Wide Web, and it’s leading us into the future.”
Rome Burning "But then we hit a road block. Rome falls and the great library of Alexandria in Egypt is burned. Much of our learning is destroyed, lost forever- or so we think.
Islamic and Jewish Scholars " It turns out there were copies of these books in the libraries of the Middle East being watched over by Arabic and Jewish scholars. Call it the first back up system. The books are saved, and with them our dreams of the future."
Benedictine Monks "In the meantime, here in Europe monks toil endlessly recording books by hand."
Renaissance " But that is about to change. In 1450, Guttenberg invents the movable type printing press. Now knowledge can travel as fast as these new books, and travel they do. Books make it easier to invent the future in every field, and the result is an incredible explosion of innovation we call the renaissance."
19th Century " Now communication technology races headlong into the future, and soon people all over the world are sharing life’s most important moments faster than ever before. By now we’re all communicating from anywhere on Earth, and in 1969 from somewhere else.."
Modern Times "Today, we possess the ability to connect with one another instantly anywhere on the planet."
1950s-1960s Computer Scene "To send a man to the moon, we had to invent a new language spoken not by man, but by computers. At first very large and very expensive computers, but we see the potential. What if everyone could have one of these amazing machines in their own house? There’s just one problem- they’re as big as house."
Home Computer Scene "After 30,000 years of time travel here we are. A truly global community networked online poised to shape the future of this, our Spaceship Earth."
Interactive Screen Narration- Instructions “For the first time in history, all of us can have a say in the kind of world we want to live in. The choices we have made for the past 30,000 years have been inventing the future one day at a time.

And now it’s your turn. On your computer screen, answer a few questions. Then we’ll add a little future technology and show you a new world custom made just for you. Are you ready to create the future? Let’s get started.”

Interactive Screen Narration- After Choosing Preferences "Well done. And now I believe your future is just about ready. Let’s take a look shall we?."
Interactive Screen Narration- After Seeing Vision of the Future " Well, I think the future we've created looks very promising, don’t you? So here’s to the next the years on Spaceship Earth. While no one knows for sure what we’ll see or do, I do know it will be quite an adventure. An adventure we’ll take and make- together. See you in the future."
Unloading Area “Welcome back, Time Travelers. Now Siemens invites you to visit Project Tomorrow; an exciting world of new ideas and innovations made possible by Siemens ingenuity. Your vehicle doors will open automatically. Please keep your hands away from the doors and step carefully onto the moving platform.”

Future Incarnation

On August 25, 2019, Disney announced that Spaceship Earth would be receiving a renovation which would tie the attraction into the park's new Wold Celebration land [20]. As part of the overhaul, Spaceship Earth's focus will shift to "the storytelling that brings people together". This new version of Spaceship earth is expected to include new scenes, a new narration, a new score, as well as "Story Light", which will bring the attraction's scenes to life [20].

Postshow

Earth Station (1982-1994) [19] [13]

The original Spaceship earth postshow was known as Earth Station. Here guests could visit guest relations, making dining reservations, or even preview some of EPCOT Center's other attractions. The WorldKey Information Kiosks were also located here, which allowed guests to video chat with a cast member who would assist them. On the ceiling, large protections previewed EPCOT Center’s other pavilions. As a whole, Earth Station furthered the idea that Spaceship Earth was guest's "welcome to Future World".

Global Neighborhood & The New Global Neighborhood (1994-2007)

After renewing their sponsorship in 1994, AT&T decided to replace Earth Station with a new postshow called the Global Neighborhood. Located within the Global Neighborhood were five interactive exhibits:

Project Tomorrow, Spaceship Earth's postshow. Photo by Lauren Javier
  • Interactive Wonderland- This exhibit focused on the future of television. The Cheshire Cat from Disney's Alice in Wonderland would react to various voice commands by guests. The idea of the exhibit was that one day, "you can watch movies, play interactive games and shop - all on your TV screen." [21]
  • You Don't Say- This exhibit showed guests that word for word translations did not always work. Guests would interpret various foreign phrases, and along the way learn a lot about language[21].
  • Communication Breakthrough- This interactive game allowed guests to "break down the walls of communication". Using an interactive paddle, guests could break a brick wall to reveal a video of another guests playing the game at the same time[21].
  • Story-Teller Phone- This interactive exhibit allowed guests to make a phone call while choosing background noises from various exotic places[21].
  • Ride the AT&T Network- This motion simulator allowed guests to "cruise on AT&T's fiber optic information superhighway". The ride showed guests just how much information was flowing through the AT&T network! [21]

In 1999 the postshow was renamed the "New Global Neighborhood". The only major change was that the AT&T Network simulator was replaced by a neon tree. The floor beneath the tree was transparent allowing guests to see its roots [21] [19].

Project Tomorrow (2007-Present)

In 2007, following Siemens assuming sponsorship of the pavilion and the subsequent refurbishment of the attraction, Spaceship Earth’s postshow was renamed Project Tomorrow: Inventing the Wonders of the Future. The postshow opened with two interactive exhibits, but that number has since increased to five. Since 2018, signage in Project Tomorrow has identified each of the post-show games by their theme, and not by their name as had previously been the case [22]. The exhibits in the current postshow are:

  • Body Builder (Health)- A video game that allows guests to construct their own "digital human body".
  • Super Driver (Transportation)- A video game which shows guests what the future of transportation could be. In the game, guests drive a smart car and try to save the city from being destroyed.
  • Power City (Energy)- A large "shuffleboard" video game that gives guests the task of powering their city. The exhibit focuses on the future of energy conservation.
  • InnerVision (Medicine)- A video game similar to Simon Says or Dance Dance Revolution. Guests must follow a series of coordinated tasks.

The center of Project Tomorrow features an illuminated globe, which showcases guest's on-ride photo and the location that they said they were from at the beginning of the attraction.

Fun Facts and Trivia

  • In the Renaissance scene, the Bible that Johannes Gutenberg inspects is an exact replica of a real Gutenberg Bible [23].
  • If Spaceship Earth were a golf ball, the golfer hitting the ball would be 6336 ft tall [24].
  • In the now removed Greek theater scene, the actors performed a scene from Oedipus Rex[23].
  • The graffiti found in the "Rome burning" scene, is an exact replica of graffiti found on ruins in the Roman city of Pompeii [23]
  • In the Renaissance scene, the man is reading Virgil's Aeneid[23].
  • The Morse code message being decoded in the 20th century scene is announcing the driving of the golden spike at Promontory Peak in 1869[23].
  • The steam press found in the 20th century scene is an exact replica of a press that was developed by William Bullock in 1863[23].
  • Peggie Faris was charged with compiling the research for Spaceship Earth [25].

References

  1. http://progresscityusa.com/2011/06/19/epcot-origins-a-model-future-1978/
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 http://land.allears.net/blogs/jackspence/2010/01/spaceship_earth_epcots_icon_pa_2.html
  3. http://thisdayindisneyhistory.homestead.com/epcotgrandopening.html
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 http://www.lostepcot.com/spaceshipearth.html
  5. https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2012/06/honoring-ray-bradburys-contribution-to-epcot/
  6. http://jimhillmedia.com/editor_in_chief1/b/jim_hill/archive/2005/03/07/553.aspx
  7. http://epcotexplorer.tumblr.com/post/99489612171/introspection-and-symbolism-an-appreciation-of
  8. http://www.intercot.com/edc/SpaceshipEarth/index.html
  9. 9.0 9.1 http://www.intercot.com/edc/SpaceshipEarth/spconcepts.html
  10. http://epcotexplorer.tumblr.com/post/22592963788/spaceship-in-spaceship-earth-original-plans-for. AUTHORS NOTE: This intended finale can be seen in concept art and the attraction's mural
  11. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWPZhjyd4QM&t=6s>
  12. http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/tourism/os-bz-disney-epcot-siemens-20170703-story.html
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 http://www.martinsvids.net/?p=877
  14. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2H3SdI4wG7s&t=2s
  15. http://www.lostepcot.com/spaceshipearth.html
  16. https://vimeo.com/5830513
  17. http://www.wdwradio.com/2005/02/now-presenting-spaceship-earth-no-one/
  18. http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2008-02-27/business/disneysiemens27_1_walt-disney-spaceship-earth-disney-world
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 Pedersen, R.A. The EPCOT Explorer's Encyclopedia:. United States: Epcyclopedia, 2011. Print.
  20. 20.0 20.1 https://www.wdwmagic.com/attractions/spaceship-earth/news/25aug2019-updates-to-spaceship-earth-confirmed-as-part-of-epcots-redevelopment.htm
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 21.5 http://www.intercot.com/edc/SpaceshipEarth/spglobal.html
  22. https://twitter.com/WDWNT/status/975034738636480513
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 23.5 https://web.archive.org/web/20130820062705/http://www.unc.edu/~crawford/epcot/se_trivia.htm
  24. http://www.intercot.com/edc/SpaceshipEarth/spfacts.html
  25. Sklar, Marty. Dream It! Do It!: My Half-century Creating Disney's Magic Kingdoms. Disney Editions, 2013. Print.